Section 5 of chapter 59 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following clause:–
Fifty–ninth. (a) Upon the acceptance of this clause by a city or town such city or town shall provide for a senior property tax freeze program to maintain the residential property tax rate in effect for the property of: (i) a person 65 years of age or older, which is occupied by the person as his or her domicile; (ii) the surviving spouse of a person 65 years of age or older at the time of their death, which is occupied by the surviving spouse as his or her domicile; (iii)a person who owns property jointly with his or her spouse, either of whom is 65 years of age or older, and which is occupied by the person as his or her domicile; (iv) a person 65 years of age or older who owns the property jointly or is a tenant in common with a person not his or her spouse and which is occupied by the person as his or her domicile; or (v) a person 65 years of age or older, in which the person has a life estate, and which is occupied by the person as his or her domicile, at the same rate as that person was obligated to pay in the prior fiscal year; provided, that the property is a single family dwelling; and provided further, that the person has been a resident of the city or town accepting this clause for at least 2 consecutive years immediately prior to the application for a property tax freeze pursuant to this section.
(b) In addition to the qualifications stated in subsection (a), the applicant's income, combined with the income of any other owners of the property, the income of applicant's spouse and the income of any owner of a remainder or reversion in the property if the property constituted the person's legal residence at any time during the year, may not exceed $5,000. Income for purposes of qualification means income from all sources as defined by the department of revenue.
(c) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a veteran as defined in clause forty-three of section 7 of chapter 4 who, as a result of disabilities contracted while in such service and in the line of duty, have a disability rating of 100 per cent as determined by the Veterans Administration, or an individual who is totally and permanently disabled, from applying for such tax freeze pursuant to this section, regardless of any other tax benefit they may be eligible for or receive; provided that said applicant otherwise meets the qualifications of the senior property tax freeze program pursuant to subsections (a) and (b).
(d) If a person qualifying for the rate freeze required by subsection (a) makes improvements upon the residential property during a year in which the person is entitled to said rate freeze and such improvements result in an increase in the assessed value of the property and the resulting tax liability, the person shall pay the additional amount of tax liability. The additional amount of tax liability shall be computed by applying the tax rate in effect on the date of the improvement to the assessed value of the improvement.
(e) A rate freeze in effect pursuant to this clause shall remain in effect until the property is sold or transferred.
(f) A person qualifying for a rate freeze pursuant to this act shall not be subject to any increase in real estate property tax liability pursuant to section 21C.
(g) This clause shall not apply to betterments assessed pursuant to chapter 80 or created pursuant to any special act pursuant to section 29 of chapter 83.
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